September 25, 2019

Feinstein Statement on House Assault Weapons Ban Hearing

Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) released the following statement on the House Judiciary Committee’s hearing on federal assault weapons ban legislation:

“For the first time in more than five years, Congress today took action on a federal assault weapons ban.

“I applaud the House Judiciary Committee for holding an important hearing on protecting Americans from the deadly scourge of military-style assault weapons. The testimony clearly illustrated that an assault weapons ban works and would save lives.

“Compared with the decade before the 1994 ban took effect, the 10 years the ban was active saw a 37 percent decline in gun massacres. Then, the decade after the ban expired, gun massacres shot back up by a stunning 183 percent. There’s no debating the fact that while the ban was in effect gun massacres were down, and after it expired they rose.

“Today’s testimony went even further, showing that the updated federal assault weapons ban we’ve introduced would be even more effective than the original version. The updated assault weapons ban clearly lays out what would qualify as an assault weapon in order to prevent the gun industry from sidestepping the law as they did 20 years ago.

“We cannot wait any longer. Republicans must stop blocking commonsense gun legislation. The time to act is now. The longer we wait, the more lives will be lost.”

Background

The Senate version of the Assault Weapons Ban of 2019 has 34 cosponsors in addition to Senator Feinstein.

Following are the key provisions of the bill:

  • Bans the sale, manufacture, transfer and importation of 205 military-style assault weapons by name. Owners may keep existing weapons.
  • Bans any assault weapon that accepts a detachable ammunition magazine and has one or more military characteristics including a pistol grip, a forward grip, a barrel shroud, a threaded barrel or a folding or telescoping stock. Owners may keep existing weapons.
  • Bans magazines and other ammunition feeding devices that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition, which allow shooters to quickly fire many rounds without needing to reload. Owners may keep existing magazines.

Following are exemptions to the bill:

  • The bill exempts by name more than 2,200 guns for hunting, household defense or recreational purposes.
  • The bill includes a grandfather clause that exempts all weapons lawfully possessed at the date of enactment.

Following are other provisions in the bill:

  • Requires a background check on any future sale, trade or gifting of an assault weapon covered by the bill.
  • Requires that grandfathered assault weapons are stored using a secure gun storage or safety device like a trigger lock.
  • Prohibits the transfer of high-capacity ammunition magazines.
  • Bans bump-fire stocks and other devices that allow semi-automatic weapons to fire at fully automatic rates.

Following are key updates to the bill:

  • Bans stocks that are “otherwise foldable or adjustable in a manner that operates to reduce the length, size, or any other dimension, or otherwise enhances the concealability of a firearm.”
  • Bans assault pistols that weigh 50 or more ounces when unloaded, a policy included in the original 1994 ban.
  • Bans assault pistol stabilizing braces that transform assault pistols into assault rifles by allowing the shooter to shoulder the weapon and fire more accurately.
  • Bans Thordsen-type grips and stocks that are designed to evade a ban on assault weapons.

Following are key studies related to assault weapons and gun safety legislation:

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